Friday, May 29, 2009

Chapter 3: The First Lapping of the Waves

As the darkness fades from her eyes, Terra stifling a moan, she lowering her hands from her now bleeding face. Her gloves bloody as she stared down at them, not feeling the pain, she only felt her sense of impending doom returning.

"Are you quite alright, Ms. Terra?" The wizened old instructor had somehow come up behind Terra after the plate had hit her, having deactivated the circle of protection surrounding her. "Ms. Terra?"

"Oh...uh... y-yes, I am alright, Master Quarkis. It seems I missed one of the plates," Terra replied, still shocked.

"Oh yes, the plates. Ms. Terra, put your hands down now," Quarkis brings his own hands to her face. Like Terra's hands had when focusing her power, Quarkis' hands begin to glow, if more brightly, and with a steady greenish hue rather than her erratic crimson one. The cuts on her face are quickly healed, leaving no traces. Even the blood coating her fades and vanishes.

"Now, lets see that arm. Your floating disk seemed to hit that particularly hard," Quarkis mumbled to himself as he pulls off her glove, feeling along her wrist with his still glowing hands. "Well, no bones seem to be broken."

Looking up at Terra, he saw her eyes full of tears. "What is the matter? There should be no more pain."

Biting back a sob, Terra replied, "Have I failed my test, Master Quarkis?"

"No, Ms. Terra. I am actually quite impressed. You might be very surprised at how many students injure themselves in these demonstrations. Why, I myself... I suppose that is a story for another time, of course. But still, few students of your level are able to actually control elemental flame as you are without a pact with a fire spirit. It seems very likely that you will be asked to join the guild. Now you must excuse me though, the other judges have moved on to the final student, and I cannot miss his demonstration."

As Master Quarkis slowly hobbled over to the waiting judges, Terra sat on the ground. Both stunned and relieved, she almost could not believe that this whole day hadn't been a dream.

"Come on, Terra," Sertorii says as he walked over to her. "We wouldn't want to miss Vettessos' display. He has been working on it in the library for months now. Even Master Quarkis seems curious about what he will do."

"Knowing Vettessos, it won’t be anything noble or worthwhile. Every class that I have had with him proves that. Did you know that he was the student who turned Mistress Kinesha blue? It took the other professors a week to change her back to a normal color. Not to mention how many of his alchemy experiments manage to poison someone, never himself of course, or explode somehow. Did you know he was the one who melted the flesh off of Asinti’s hand with what was supposed to be a potion of night vision?"

Terra takes his offered hand as he helped her to her feet, and together they followed the judges to the last magical circle, exchanging more rumors of misdeeds. Vettessos, the short northerner, was still down on his knees with a large piece of chalk, putting the finishing touches on a magical circle of his own inside of the one placed by the instructors. As he continued drawing, Terra watched him closely.

Like her friend Kayla, Vettessos hailed from the wild lands on the northern border of the Eastern Territories. However, the two of them did not find comfort and friendship when each discovered where the other was from as Terra had expected. She soon learned that while Kayla was from the Kingdom of Grelz, Vettessos was from their very hostile neighbor, the Duchy of Bari. The two lands had been simmering with violence almost since humans had come to the region several centuries ago, and had fought in bloody open war only a generation ago. In fact, the renewed hostility between their kingdoms was the reason Kayla had left school. This fact did nothing to endear Terra to the pale haired little human she watched now.

She did not recognize the magical circle he is finishing, but that is no great surprise. The body of knowledge that modern magic encompasses made it nearly impossible for one person, even one as long lived as an elf, to learn it all. Even most who would be considered masters of the magical arts tend to focus on one small aspect of the craft, such as Master Quarkis with his healing.

Terra's reverie was broken when Vettessos' circle begins to glow with power. The young student moved to the center, kneeling in front of a large candle. With an indecipherable whispered word of power from him, the candle lights itself and his chanting began.

The words are much different than what Terra expected. In fact, she has never heard the language he is using. In the few required classes on the creation of magical circles of protection that Terra had attended, they had used the common eastern tongue. As the chanting became louder and more guttural, the flames of the candle burn more brightly.

The nagging feeling that she is missing something important tugged at Terra's mind, but she could not tell what it might be. It was almost as if there was something just beyond the range of her hearing that is calling out. The feeling grew more intense, the almost-sound rising and falling in rhythm with Vettessos' chants. Looking around, Terra saw looks of confusion on several of the other student's faces, as well as on a few of the instructors'.

Sertorii, whom Terra had almost forgotten was standing there, startled Terra when he whispered to her, "That doesn't look like a circle of protection to me. I might be wrong, but it’s forbidden by the Guild to learn any other type isn’t it?"

She half turned towards him, not taking her eyes off of the chanting boy. "Yes. Guild Master Rikkosk had that on the list of the forbidden arts. But Vettessos wouldn't be stupid enough to break the laws of the Guild right in front of the instructors. He would never be able to join if he.... Do you hear that?"

“Hear what?” Sertorii asked, who looked quite ill at ease.

“That voice-” A deep rumbling cut off the rest of Terra’s words, as the entire circumference of the circle burst into flames. The voice Terra had thought she heard now boomed clearly from the inflamed circle.

“A blood offering must be made, mortal,” the disembodied voice intoned.

The very sound of it drove a spike of pure terror through Terra. Her feet seemed to be stuck to the ground in horror as she continued to watch Vettessos, for now she recognized just what he had been doing as they all watched complacently.

“My offering is them, defiling one!” Vettessos nearly screamed as he pointed at the small crowd of professors and students gathered in front of him.

Through the rumbling, Terra heard the others around her. Most of the teachers seemed to be yelling at Vettessos, either ordering or begging him to stop this abomination. Sertorii stood by her side, as stunned as she was, when the demon that the young human had summoned began to tear its way into the world.

With an unearthly screech, the talons of the demon ripped through the air between Vettessos and the others. As the breach between the demon’s hellish dimension and her own world widened, Terra nearly fainted for the second time that day. At first Terra mistook what she was feeling as revulsion that one of her fellow students would bring such a thing into the world, but soon realized that it was the closeness of such a vile presence that caused the sickness she felt deep inside. Beside her, Sertorii fell to his hands and knees, gagging from the psychic stench of the thing that permeated the air.

As he retched beside her, Terra watched as the massive demon emerged fully into the world. Towering over the small Vetessos, it slowly turned towards the small crowd of teachers, taking a step towards them. Without thinking, Terra raised her hand towards the beast, again focusing her power into it. The fiery hues of magic began to coalesce, dancing around her slender fingers.

The flaming bolt that burst forth from her hand was of surprising strength. As she watched its speedy flight towards the demon Terra felt the first wave of intense pain hit her. By the time the ball of fire had hit the edge of the magical containment circle and dissipated harmlessly, she realized what a horrible mistake she had made. Not only had the reflexive use of her spell been useless, she had not even been properly prepared to use it. As she tore her now teary eyes away from the horrid creature to look at her hand, the one still glowing with her magic, she saw only the charred and flayed remains that seemed somehow connected to her arm.

It was then that the full intensity of the pain overcame her and brought Terra to her knees, screaming in pain. She looks back up as the demon begins pounding and tearing at the magical wall containing him. As her vision began to fade for the second time that day, Terra wondered if this time she would live long enough to wake up.

Hands grabbed at her, pulling her now almost limp body off of the ground. She could still hear the demon's terrifying roars of outrage as she drifted back into unconsciousness.

This is all I have right now. I think there is more to chapter 3, and I might have a print-out of chapter 4 which I'll try to get online soon.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chapter 2: The Rising Tide Part 3

Terra ran down the dark hallway, dragging her satchel as she rubs her tired eyes, cursing under her breath. "Damn that cat! Why did he have to choose last night to get sick? At the very least he could have kept it to himself, and not done it on my bed. Maybe I should have strangled him and gotten it over with. He is such a..."

Already late as she emerged into the blindingly bright morning light of the practice field, she finds the remaining members of her class lined up on one side, listening to the wizened old instructor who spoke for the panel of judges behind him.

"Those of you here are the few who haves passed your written exams. You have proven yourselves able to memorize the tenants of the arcane. We like to pride ourselves on weeding out failures early, but of course, some of you manage to slip through the cracks."

His seemingly cataract-filled eyes peering out from underneath his bushy and unkempt eyebrows surveyed the students, stopping on each of their faces. As his gaze reached each one, they could feel the power behind those eyes, and although the day was warm, a shiver ran up Terra's spine.

"Now we will test if you can apply the knowledge that we have spent years pounding into your skulls. Knowledge is nothing without the power to use it, after all. First you will be run through a series of tests, to prove your mastery of cantrips and simple incantations. After that, for those of you who receive satisfactory marks, you will be asked to demonstrate a more powerful spell of your own design. Those with the most impressive displays will be considered for graduation. And the few who do may have the opportunity for a guild apprenticeship."

As soon as the instructor finished, dozens of servants came on to the field carrying large tables. These were set up in a large semicircle across half the field, with arcane objects and open tomes spread out on top of them, and for the next several hours, the few dozen students who had reached this point demonstrated the fruits of their studies.

Terra waited her turn at each of the tables with some trepidation, as some of those before her left the field in failure, having not been able to complete one of the demonstrations. After each table the crowd of students diminished, until, by the end, only nine students remained. These students were escorted, Terra among them, to the empty side of the field by the judges.

"Well," the same instructor begins, after clearing his throat, "I am proud of all of you that have made it this far. I only expected about half this number to make it to this point. Now we reach the final test. Take a few minutes to set up your demonstrations and prepare your minds in your assigned area."

Each student was led to a rather large circle that was seemingly painted onto the grass. Upon closer examination, Terra noticed a faint glow coming from the white boundaries of the shape, with much smaller lines leading towards the center. She recognized it from several of the tomes she had spent years studying from, but had never seen one until this moment. It was a circle of protection, meant to prevent any and all magical energies from penetrating the barrier.

Not something initiates into the world of magic generally encountered, the college seemed to have spared no expense to protect their students from accidents, Terra thinks to herself. Or rather, protect all of their students besides the one in the circle, of course. If by any chance something catastrophic did happen inside the circle, the student inside would bear the full brunt of it. Terra had heard the widespread apocryphal stories of such things happening during the final evaluations, as had every other student.

Terra, from her circle on the far corner, sat and watched the others rummage through their bags and books in preparation. After a couple minutes of relaxing and enjoying the warmth of the early spring sunlight and the smell of the grass, she stood, picking up her satchel. Taking from it several large plates, she carefully lined them up on the edge of her circle. She bent over them, examining the runic designs on them, turning them slightly, making sure they were aligned to her satisfaction before once again sitting on the grass and pulling on a pair of leather gloves.

The judges came to the first student, who had a small table of his own set up in his circle. Although she cannot see the exact demonstration, Terra knows it was something to do with alchemy, due to the large number of vials and beakers on the table. Apparently it pleased the judges, as her fellow student whooped for joy as they walked away from his table.

The next few tests passed much as the first, with small demonstrations of magical ability. The fifth student who was tested had something a bit more dramatic. This was the only other student that the introverted Terra recognized. A fellow elf like herself, although quite a bit older, she recalled his name as being something like Sertorii.

A column of water a dozen feet across gushed forth from the center of Sertorii's circle and reached a height of about thirty feet. Once at this height, the water stopped in place and begins pulsing. With each pulse, it changed shape slightly, coming closer and closer to the form of a person. Terra soon recognized it as an oversized replica of Sertorii himself. The giant form waved to the judges gathered below and at the nearby students before dissolving back into the ground. The applause from several of the judges surprised Terra until she notices that she is clapping as well at the impressive display of water magic.

The next couple of tests were nothing as spectacular as Sertorii’s hydromancy, with another alchemic mixture, and a classic spell of prestidigitation where a statue disappeared, only to reappear half way across that student’s circle.

Only two students remained to be tested now. Terra, and a quiet, light complexioned human boy from the northern wild lands waited for their judgments. Terra gave a mental sigh of relief when the judges walked towards her first. She dreaded this final test, but did not want to be the last one on the field to be judged. She knew she would crack under that kind of pressure. And if she failed after this much effort, after this many years of studying…

Shaking those dark thoughts from her head, she turned to face the judges and explained her magical demonstration. “For my demonstration of magical aptitude, I intend to show my mastery of a simple form of pyromancy, or fire magic. Having borrowed these disks,” she motioned to the meticulously placed plates on the grass, “which have been enchanted before hand with the power of flight, I will use fiery bolts of energy to destroy them in midair.”

With a theatrical flourish, she snatched one of the plates from the ground, and tosses it into the air, yelling out the word to activate its magical flight. “Akba!”

The plate soars into the sky, and began to dart around over the heads of those gathered below. As the disk reached the edge of the circle, it seemingly bounced off in invisible barrier with a small shower of blue sparks, only to fly in another random direction.

A smile came to Terra’s face as she watched for a moment, everything going just as it did when she rehearsed. Raising her right arm, she pointed at the flying plate, uttering the mystical phrase to release her power. The unintelligible words leave her lips, and a red aura surrounded her upraised glove. As she focuses her will, the aura forms into the form of a burning arrow and shoots towards the plate, shattering it into burning shards that tumbled to the ground several yards from her.

Terra, with growing confidence, raised two more of the plates into the air, sending them flying erratically around her circle. And with the same confidence, she sent out to more bolts of flame to shatter them both in turn. Light applause finally registers in her ears as she hazarded a look at the judges. Although nothing like the cheers for Sertorii's hydromancy, it still filled her heart with joy to know that her nightmares of failure weren't going to come true.

Raising up the last plate from the ground, she once again gestures towards it, gathering her mystic energies around her gloved hand. "Akba!" she said once again, sending her flaming arrow towards the plate. Unfortunately, the plate chose this time to bounce off of the magical barrier surrounding Terra's practice space. Her flame missed its target by a wide margin, dissipating into nothingness at the edge of the marked circle. The plate however, streaked back towards Terra, who only has time to raise her hands in front of her before the impact. With a shattering sound, the plate broke against Terra's right hand, sending sharp knives of pottery into her arms and face.

Darkness descended on Terra as she falls to the ground.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chapter 2: The Rising Tide Part 2

Horns blare as the procession of proud knights emerged from the keep, hooves trampling piles of fresh flowers thrown by the village's residents and the families of the horsemen. The first rays of the dawn sun making their freshly polished armor gleam. The bright personal banners of each knight fluttered in the breeze from his lance tip.

A day of gathering had been declared in Talsu, from the capitol, which shared the name of the small kingdom, to even the smallest of the outlying villages. In every one of them, the nobles of the king gathered with their peasant retainers, as the serfs, with their spring planting long over, came to see the spectacle.

Many of the elders in the crowd remembered the last time they had watched the warriors of the kingdom leave for war. A few of those watching still bore the wounds from what the Talsians came to call the War of the Hammer. Near the head of the line of the knights, a young Elf was relearning his history…

“The War of the Hammer was the largest war in these parts since the end of the Elf-Dwarf War millennia ago, young master,” Arcturus lectured, riding beside the boy. “The War of the Hammer, like the present little squabble, began with the Duchy of Bari. A land which, I hope you remember at least this much from your lessons, Melkior, is now just on the other side of the greatest power on this side of the Great River, the Kingdom of Grelz. Of course, at the time of the war, that narrow strip of Grelz land between our two realms was owned by the Bari. They lost that in the blood settlement at the end of the war."

"There was a minor trade dispute over tariffs on Bari riverboats that traveled past Grelz out to the Middle Sea. When the King sent a messenger demanding an increase of the tariffs, the Duke of Bari himself took up a warhammer, and brought it down right on the head of the messenger. Unbeknownst to the Duke, the messenger happened to be the second cousin of the King’s third son. Are you following all this, or staring at the pretty peasant girls in the crowd?”

When Melkior did not respond, as he was indeed eyeing the comely and festively dressed elven girls in the crowd, their hair done up in wreaths of flowers for the gathering, Arcturus’ gauntleted hand rapped the back of his helmet, making the boys ears ring. “Young master, pay attention!”

“Yes, Arcturus,” Melkior turned his head, looking at the Swordmaster, a distracted look fading from his face only slowly as he straitened his helm. The occasional darting of his eyes back towards the gathered throng ruined his look of contriteness. “Please, enlighten me more.”

The elder elf only half raised his hand before dropping it back to the reins of his horse, sighing. “The spilling of royal blood, or rather the smashing of a royal skull in this case, not to mention the breaking of an oath and the killing of a messenger, led to war… I suppose that is a better cause for war than most. Killing a messenger, and breaking the sacrosanct pact to safeguard them, is quite an offense against both men and gods. Soon, the surrounding kingdoms, including Talsu, joined in the war on the side of Grelz. Badly outnumbered, the army of Bari managed to hold out in their keeps for month after month, repelling every assault. That is, until the winter solstice. That is when the atrocity started.”

“You’ve already told me about that, Arcturus. And before you hit me, I both remember and understand the significance of what you told me. The wizards of Bari made a pact with demons. Demons that tore the armies of the other kingdoms apart and ravaged the land. It took five years for the last of them to be hunted down and killed, or at least banished back to their own realm. Unfortunately for the Bari, the demons were as dishonorable as the Duke of Bari himself, and at the first opportunity, devastated his army as well.”

“And what did that lead to, young master?” Arcturus prompted.

“The Treaty of the Hammer, in which the names of all the kingdoms involved in the war were inscribed, along with the consecrated oath never to call upon the denizens of the infernal realms, on the same warhammer which started the conflict. The hammer is on display in the hall of the King of Grelz, and is brought forth every solstice to reaffirm the pact. But I don’t see how that will be relevant now, as the Bari were at the last oath swearing. Casperian was there, and told me so. They wouldn’t dare break that oath. To do so would bring down the wrath not only of armies of mortals, but the gods as well.”

“Mortals have been known to do stupid things, young master. We need only look at what both we and the Dwarfs did in our wars to see evidence of what atrocities men can do,” Arcturus intoned, sending a chill up the spine of the boy. “This will be your first war, hopefully it will be over quickly. I do not see how the Bari can stand up to Grelz, with or without the added levies of troops we will add, along with the bowmen of Tricarico. That is what worries me. Even men blinded by glory and thoughts of revenge should be able to see that they cannot win this fight.”

“If they are so likely to fail, why do you look so worried?” The young warrior asked of his teacher, seeing his brow furrow.

“Because, boy,” Arcturus looked past the riders in front of them, towards the horizon, “I don't see how they can win, and yet they try anyway. Does that mean they see a way that all of us have missed?”

The gaiety and excitement of his first ride to war was lost to Melkior as he pondered this. He glanced up to the head of the line of knights, towards his cousin Casperian and the main advisers of the clan. Question after question flooded his mind. What had they missed? What did the Bari know? Would it make a difference, as outnumbered as they would be?

"Dont look so down, young Master. We will find out what will happen in the fullness of time. Your cousin won't steer us wrong. He is a good man." Arcturas said, patting Melkior on the shoulder. The procession of knights and their retainers passed through the village and towards the far off encampments of the main Talsian Army.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The problem with the Juice(r)

Friday, May 21st, 2009

The last thing that happened to the group is a building blew up in front of them, and Maxwell the CS Scout saw a juicer on top of the opposite building.

Custer had already flown away from the explosion, grabbing the mercenary next to him. Prior to the explosion, Veras had bolted away from the traveling group.

Maxwell gets on the radio right after he sees the figure on the building. “Juicer, opposite building rooftop!” Custer sets down the merc, and quickly flies up above the roof. When he gets there, he sees the juicer running from the rooftop edge towards the middle of the building, where a large sized jet pack is waiting.

“Juicer Icarus Flight System on the roof, I'm going to take it out.” Custer starts shooting his rail gun at the jet pack, but the juicer was closing quickly, so he fired a mini-missle at the rooftop, essentially vaporizing the roof, and causing the Icarus to drop through to the floor below.

Maxwell, continued to monitor the situation on the ground, while Veras rounded the corner of the block to get a better view of the situation. She starts pulls herself up to a fire escape on an apartment complex and begins climbing the stairs.

The juicer, seeing the explosion and the results, doesn't lose stride and jumps down into the hole at full speed. He quickly hides, and is out of view of Custer is his SAMAS suit. Just as Custer is about to get on the radio, he is blasted by the juicer's signature assassin rifle. He returns fire, and attempts to supress any further attacks, which is successful. The juicer attempts to dodge the laser shots, but is mostly unsuccessful, and loses ground trying to get to the Icarus. Just as he gets a lucky and jumps into the Icarus, he snags his foot and gets his head blasted away Custer.

“Victory to the proletariat, juicer down,” says Custer over the radio.

“Wait there, I'll be right up,” says Maxwell. He enters the building and begins climbing stairs. Inside, he sees that people have taken refuge inside, staying out of the sun. Most seem pale and have gaunt skin, but seem to mostly ignore Maxwell or give him a wide berth.

In the meantime, Veras has climbed to the roof of the building and is surveying the landscape. While she is doing that she gets another message:

“Good to see your alive. Meet at 0050 hours at Riverfront Park Center.”
A map appears along with the message, and shows the location roughly to the west.
“Bring your friends if you'd like.”

Custer begins inspecting the Icarus. It seemed badly damaged, and wouldn't have any specific information, so he begins looking at the juicer. His head was blown clean off by the laser, so his body was mostly intact. He had his laser rifle on him, but otherwise nothing else stood out. Maxwell gets up there fairly quickly, and helps Custer go through the equipment. They take everything of value, and then Maxell gets on the radio “Veras, why don't you get over here and take a look at this.”

Veras looks at the equipment, and makes a guess as to it's value. “I thing I might be able to find a buyer for something like this. Give me a second,” and she leaves the building.

Custer pulls out a portable music player, and pushes the play button on it out of curiosity.

“If everything goes as agreed upon, you'll get your five mil. Just remember, no survivors, and no witnesses. I don't want it traced back to you, or to me,” Custer hears from the small portable device. He pops out the disk, and begins examining it on his computer system. “I don't know where this came from, but it does kind of confirm he's our guy,” indicating the decapitated juicer.

Veras comes back with a guy in a black leather jacket and pants. 'Oh, I see what you mean...,” he trails off. “Well, this looks like juicer equipment to me. Not much demand in that, if you know what I mean. How much you want for it?”

“Two mil,” says Custer immediately, apparently pulling a number from nowhere but delivering it with authority and conviction.

“Two mil? I think half is more than fair. Look, it's got laser marks here, and here, and the generally scorching...”

“Okay, split the difference, one point five.”

“Well, the way I figure it, you can't fly this thing, or otherwise move it, or you would have done it and I wouldn't be here talking to you. What's to say I don't come back and take it when you leave?”

“It won't be here when you come back,” says Maxwell, hoisting his rifle.

“Right then, a mil, that's my final offer.”

“You got it on you?”

The man pulls out a card, about 2 inches by 3 inches, and a quarter inch think, solid black. “Yep.”

Maxwell takes the card and scans it with his computer. “1 million Bandito Arms credits,” his headset relays to him.

“Nice doing business with you,” he says, indicating to the others to make a quick exit. After descending two flights of stairs, they hear another explosion. “Damn juicers,” says Custer.

In other gaming news, I've pre-ordered HackMaster Basic. I'm actually quite excited, as it has a definite old school feel. Thought I've never played AD&D, I probably could have if I wasn't playing Palladium Fantasy instead. So, things that other gamers my age take for granted are in the game. Armor has damage reduction in addition to AC, weapons have speeds, and other awesomeness.

Also, we didn't game on Sunday so the next Kalamar game will be the 31st.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chapter 2: The Rising Tide Part 1

Passing through the camp of Lord Clynn disgusted Lyle in several ways. The most obvious and striking of these was the incredibly oppressive stench permeating the air. The odor of unwashed bodies, poorly dug latrines, and freshly slaughtered livestock, mixed with the faint taint of sickness emanating from several of the hastily erected tents. Blessedly, pulling the collar of his cloak up over his nose blocked most of the noxious smell, although there was nothing he could do for his poor horse, or the horses of his followers, as they rode down the weaving path to the command tent.

“It’s terrible to see soldiers wasted so, M’lord,” Nimbus remarked, looking around at the men, most in various states of undress, and few looking well fed. He gestured to one such example of a soldier, who was wearing half of a rusted suit of armor and passed out drunk in the muddy pathway, as they edged their horses by. “They should be drilling, or at least building a proper camp. We are only a half days ride from the ‘official’ border of the Empire, and in truth are well into enemy territory.”

“That we are. But it is not our concern at the moment. Our own scouts are patrolling the area well enough for the moment. And besides, I will not be counting on this rabble for much longer. As long as their lax behavior doesn’t infect our troops, we will ignore it. By the way, from the smell of it, plague will soon spread through their ranks. We must make sure that they do not infect us in this way as well. Remind me to have Doreen and Ophelia lead the prayer against sickness for the men when we return to our camp.”

“Yes, Lord,” Nimbus replied as they reach the large, opulent tent, if such a massive structure can be fully encompassed by the word “tent.” Nearly thirty feet in height, and easily three times that in width, it was the largest structure for two days ride in any direction. Its enormous size was only matched by the wildly varying hues of the materials from which it was constructed. From deep blues, to blazing crimsons, every shade of the rainbow seemed to have its place in the patchwork design.

With a practiced eye, Lyle recognized the fabric as the exorbitantly expensive silk that could only come from the Land of the South Winds. Every season when the winds are right, dozens of daring ships tried this dangerous passage along the coast of the Yin Sloth Jungles far to the south of most civilized kingdoms. Riches came to the crews of the few ships that do manage to return with a full load of the silks, having evaded pirates, disease, and the occasional attack by man-eating monsters. For Lord Clynn to have so much of it for such a wasteful purpose as this opulent monstrosity of a tent offended Lyle's sense of military discipline.

Tossing his reins to the waiting pageboy as they dismount, Lyle turned to his company of soldiers. “Wait here for me, men. We shan’t be long. A warning though, any man who shares a drink with the pack of mongrels in this camp will be left here. I will not have our discipline deteriorate to the level of these degenerate House Clynn dogs.”

With that, he turned and opened the entry flap to the tent, stepping inside, and is once again nearly overcome by the smell of the place. A stifling mixture of expensive spices and perfumes flood Lyle’s senses. The arrhythmic twinkling music of chimes and strumming of lyres emanate softly from behind the expensive curtains that serve as walls for the massive chamber, reminding Lyle of the ancient foreignness of the Empire to which he is now tied. The tent, although lit by glowing globes floating overhead, still brought visions of a dark, dank cave to his mind. And across this cave sat someone who fit the role of a particularly offensive cave-troll perfectly, Lord Clynn.

Ensconced in fine silks on his throne, the imbedded jewels of which would pay to mount a brigade of cavalry with fine steeds, sat the petulant lord. Grease ran down his chin from the lamb shank, which he was currently using to extravagantly gesture towards one of his nobles.

“Hwe-ku na gaush,” Lord Clynn proclaimed in the native tongue of the Empire. “Na-ke chqu bosh nada, na seech maga. Kush Clynn gaushee bosh te kalen, nok tuu verash.”

Nimbus’ hand lowers to his sword belt, but a gesture from Lyle stopped him. "Tell me what he said."

Nimbus leaned towards Lyle, angrily whispering a translation in his ear. “He says ‘It was an excellent slaughter, for barbarian mercenaries from the east anyway. Soon we will find an enemy worthy for our own House Clynn soldier’s to fight.’”

Chuckling under his breath, Lyle whispered back to Nimbus, “There is no need to be insulted, Nimbus. This one is not fit to judge his betters. And even my lowliest soldier is his better. Now let us make a good show of this. We will show this rabble why we are the beloved of the goddess of victory.”

With that, Lyle squared his shoulders, and strode forward confidently, almost disdainfully, not waiting for his presence to be announced. “Lord Clynn, you summoned me away from the campaign front. Why have you done this?”

The nobles who understood his eastern tongue bristled dangerously, while most, and Lord Clynn himself, waited for a translation from the half-naked slave standing beside the throne. His face turning red and twisting into a grimace of hate, the now furiously offended lord rose to his feet. “Ya veknu ka chqu noshee! Seech Clynn na poslin kedawa nok su! Ashin tor mak su nawa kegin mak tekal.”

Once again Nimbus quietly translated for Lyle through tightly clenched teeth, “He wishes to remind you that you are a guest soldier in his land by Imperial order, but that House Clynn is under no obligation to make sure you remain a live guest. He also suggests that you beg for your life, Lord.”

The laugh that escaped Lyle this time is no quiet chuckle, but a cold laugh. He bowed deeply to Lord Clynn and his entourage. "Pardon me, lords of House Clynn. Perhaps I have forgotten my place among such prestigious persons."

Lord Clynn's translator whispered into his ear as Lyle continues. "After all, I am merely a prince from a minor kingdom in a backwater part of the Eastern Territories. How could I know the proper etiquette to deal with such illustriousness? I freely admit I am not on the same level as my host here." This brought a smug grin to the face of the man Lyle will always think of as "the troll."

"After all, how could I be compared to one such as you? My family has not degenerated into incestuous, self-serving aristocrats, who allow their people to fall into such despair. My family does not spend its days in a drunken stupor, beating our servants to convince themselves how brave we are while a worthy opponent stands against us. Now, if you will excuse me, I have real business to attend to concerning the frontier. Goodbye, Lord Clynn. I know we will not meet again."

Without waiting for the translation to be complete, Lyle turned and walked back out the entrance of the tent. Nimbus waited a moment longer, bowing mockingly towards the nobles, and then hurries after his lord.

"Was that wise, M’lord?" Nimbus asked, as both men quickly mount their waiting horses.

"No, Nimbus it was not wise. But honestly, I could not help myself. It was worth it though, just to see his smug expression deflate. His kind is anathema to everything lordship should stand for."

Lyle looked back over his shoulder as they reach their escorts. "He will be seething in there for a few more moments before he starts calling for my head on a stake. Take it up to a trot, men. Once we reach the gates, we must run, no matter how much it may damage our pride."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chapter 1: The Lowest Ebb Part 3

“AAAAAAAAAAAHHH!” The mailed warrior stood over the battered body of the huge troll he had just slain, pulling his war hammer from the crushed remains of its skull. Pulling the scarf from around his neck, he proceeded to wipe the gore-encrusted head of the hammer. With a sigh, he tossed the now bloody cloth to the dust of the now silent battlefield. Taking off his helm, the man revealed a pair of piercing blue eyes in a tanned face, under a sweaty mop of blond hair.
Turning to the man next to him, handing him the hammer, he rasped out in a dry croak, “How many did we lose, Nimbus?”

The slight, dark man next to him looked down for a moment before speaking. “Two, M'lord. Acrison, son of Amoss, and trooper Narshe.”

Slamming his fist into his metal covered thigh, the blond man’s eyes turned flinty for a moment. “Damn them! Two is two too many. It doesn’t matter if we slaughter dozens of them, we weren’t supposed to get bogged down fighting these inhuman savages out here in the wastelands.” But a crooked smile crept into his dark expression, brightening it almost entirely in moments. “Of course, I suppose we are blooding the men. Not to mention earning the Emperor’s gratitude at the same time.”

“Lord, I’m not sure that the Emperor Itomas’ gratitude is something you should seek. People say that he is a strange man, and will be as likely to see you as a threat as he is to see you as a friend. For that matter, all these Westerners are strange. I do not mean to question your plan, M’lord, only say words of caution. Besides, the local nobility’s attention is bad enough. The House Clynn continues to get in your way. They are the lords of the entire border of the Empire. That does give them some clout within the Imperial court, does it not? I would suggest you be polite when that messenger gets here.” With a point of his arm, he called the blond man’s attention to the rider quickly approaching his small army of soldiers.

Watching the messenger ride towards them, he replied, “House Clynn is nothing, Nimbus. Their blood has been tainted with degeneracy for generations. They are inbred curs compared to my family, and insects compared to the family of the Emperor.” Another crooked half-smile.

“Besides, I’ve heard rumors that the noble members of Regional House Clynn might soon lose their House status, along with their heads. They are as incompetent as they are rude. If there is one thing the Emperor is consistent on, it is punishing incompetence.”

The two men standing silently, waiting for the horseman to ride over to them, shared the remains of a canteen. Towering over the men he rode up to, the rider looked down at the pair, sneering out his words, “Which one of you is Lord Lyle, Prince of the Kingdom of Grelz?”

“I am he,” the blond man replied calmly.

“The great and powerful Lord Clynn has summoned you to his temporary court at Shinkasa. This summons is immediate. His Lordship will take any delay on your part as a personal insult which will incur the wrath of House Clynn.” Without another word, the courier wheeled his horse around, and haughtily trotted off in the direction he came.

Once the rider is out of earshot, Lyle let out a hearty laugh. “Now it seems the little dog wants the pleasure of my company. I’ll let him bark all he wants. The little dog will soon find that he is in fact barking in the company of wolves.” This time, there was nothing brightening about the smile on his face. A nearby soldier searching the bodies of the troll raiders glanced up, and quickly looked away from the expression on his lord’s face.

“Have Doreen round up some of the men, we will see to the proper burial of our dead, Nimbus. But we’ll have to be quick about it. After all, we wouldn’t want to ‘incur the wrath of House Clynn.’ And while you are at it, take a few men with you and drag the bodies of the trolls into a pile and burn them.”

As Lyle and his small army marched northwards across the lonely wasteland back to Imperial-held lands, they left behind them two graves, and a dark pillar of smoke rising up into the evening sky.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chapter 1: The Lowest Ebb Part 2

Crack! The wooden swords collided again and again. With each swing, Arcturus beat down the defenses of the elven boy. The two fighters circled each other on horseback, sword in one hand, and reins in the other. With a wild swing, the young dark-haired boy attacked the battle-scarred man. With a casual grace, Arcturus promptly knocked the blow away, and delivered one of his own. The now dented helm flew from the head of his overzealous opponent as he toppled from his horse to the hard ground.

Arcturus dismounted, and stands over the body of the bruised and slightly dazed boy. The blunted tip of his practice sword comes down to tap a particularly large lump on the boys head. The boy winced, looking up with one swollen eye. “Well, young master, you held onto your sword this time. That’s a definite improvement. Do you think you can stand up?”

The boy croaked an affirmative, and struggled to his feet, still clutching his sword. “Good to see you’re showing spirit, Melkior,” Arcturus saidlowly to the bleary-eyed boy. “You may soon need it. After all, you’re approaching manhood, and have duties as part of your noble house. The Whiteblade clan has been protecting the peasantry of this region for hundreds of years. You may not be the heir, but the duties fall to you until your cousin Casperian’s return. You must be prepared, in case the worst should happen. Now, are you ready? Hold your sword higher, young master!”

And with that, another flurry of sword strokes ensued. Taking hit after hit, Melkior managed to stay on his feet. His own strokes becoming more and more ragged and desperate, he lunged at his trainer, finally landing a single blow. Although managing to connect with his opponent at all was quite a feat, naturally the blow did not land on the intended target of Arcturus’ chest, but instead hit the warrior’s blade just above the hilt, sending it spinning to the ground nearby. With a cry of victory, he swung again at his now unarmed opponent.

Without knowing how it happened, he woke a few moments later on the ground, once again looking up at Arcturus, utterly defeated. His ears ringing, he began to make out most of the words being spoken to him.

“…told you before. A sword is a tool, not a weapon. Only a person is a weapon. The mind matters more than any hunk of wood or metal you carry around. I may be a Swordmaster of Lopan, young master, but that doesn’t mean I can’t fight without one. Maybe we should move on to hand-to-hand combat. It looks like you could use some training in that area. Maybe it would help you focus a little.”

Arcturus bent down and snapped his fingers in front of Melkior’s face, bringing the boy's still muddled mind fully back to reality. He grabbed the boy by the sleeves of his padded leather tunic and pulled him back to his feet, unsteady though me may be on them. The two spent the next hour going through fighting techniques, until Melkior had finally reached the limits of his endurance and ended up on the ground once again, exhausted. Sitting by his side on the ground, Arcturus continued to lecture the boy about a variety of topics ranging from choice of fighting tools, to battlefield tactics, to the rules of honorable duels.

“Are you following all this, young master, or are you just watching the clouds go by?” he asked of the sky-gazing youth.

“Oh, I learned early on not to ignore you, Arcturus. After all, if I did you would be likely to attack me to teach me some sort of obscure lesson. Don’t try to deny it.”

“Why deny it? If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you would deserve to have a few more sets of bruises. Now, if you are strong enough to try and make fun of me, you are strong enough to fight. I’ll even be nice, you have one minute to get back on your feet and ready.” With that, Arcturus hopped to his feet, watching his still sluggish charge once again rise to face him.

“Ready?” He lunged at the boy. “AAAAAAAAAAAHHH!”

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chapter 1: The Lowest Ebb Part 1

This is the first of several posts detailing the origins of Melkior, Terra, and Lyle in our ongoing Palladium Fantasy Campaign. These were written by the GM several years ago but are an interesting read for anyone interested in Palladium Fantasy, RPGs, or fantasy in general.

“So in essence, the two basic principles of magic are those of similarity and contagion. The first refers to the fact that the properties of an object, symbol, or words, are reflected through a similar effect of magical… energy. The second …of these ………principles, that of …………contagion…” The girl’s head slowly drooped. The cat lying on the bed eyed her as she oddly slept with her nose buried in a large leather tome. Sliding down off his perch, the cat slowly walked over to her, watching her, and becomes tantalized by her long hair hanging off the edge of the table. As the midnight colored strands swayed fitfully in the cool draft of the night, almost shimmering in the pale candlelight, and even paler moonlight, the urge to bat at it became nearly uncontrollable. But the cat knew better.

This was no ordinary cat. This cat was one of the privileged of its kind. This was a cat of the Timiro College Arcanum. Imbued with a minimal intelligence and self-awareness, he knew he should let the student sleep. Out of frustration of a thwarted instinct, he inspected the small chamber for some other target for his fascination. The cold stony walls, the rich wood of the floorboards, and the neat and orderly piles of books on the shelves held little interest to his feline mind. The sleeping form of the girl is what the eyes of the cat came back to.

If she were human, she would be considered tall and comely. But of course, even with the small intellect that he possessed, the cat could tell that she was not human, but an elf. The long, pointed ears, the pale skin, the youthful features for one who, although she looked to be in her late teens, in fact had to be nearly forty years of age, all identified her as one of the magical and ancient race of elves. He had been staying in this student’s room with her for the last five years. The cat vaguely remembered the other elf-girl who lived in the room, but she had left so long ago.

Sitting up, the elf rubbed her nose, fighting back a yawn, and told herself that she can’t sleep until she read the rest of the assignment. As she flipped through the rest of the chapter, she groaned, “Come on, Terra, only thirty seven pages to go until you can quit.”

Staring back down at the grimoire she had trouble concentrating on the words. Her tired mind continued to turn to Kayla. Kayla, her best friend. Kayla, the only true friend she had managed to make in the years she had attended the magical academy. Terra glanced over at Kayla’s still empty old bed. No new roommate had been assigned to her room yet. Noticing the movement on the floor, she spies Artemis, one of the school cats, and leaned down to pick him up and placed him on her lap, gently stroking his soft fur as she looked blankly back at the book.

It had been five months now since Kayla had left the school. Just months short of completing her training, she had received a troubling letter from home. Terra knew her friend lived far to the north, near the edge of the domain of civilized races, in the small backwater kingdom of Grelz. Not even a member of the Charter of the League of Kingdoms in that piece of land called the Eastern Territories, it had to defend itself. And apparently defend itself it would. Several of its neighboring countries were preparing for war. When Kayla showed the letter to Terra, at first she did not understand the consequences it would have for her. Her friend then explained that she must go home, even without having become a full member of the magic guild of Timiro, and help her family.

Many tears were shed, at both Kayla’s leaving and for many nights thereafter. But life did go on, even in its more lonely state. Eye’s blurred with tears once again, tears of both sadness and exhaustion. Terra wiped them away, telling herself that as soon as she finished her schooling, she would go to see her friend. “Only thirty seven pages to go tonight, and then forty two days to go until I join the guild,” she whispered to herself, still gently stroking the fur of Artemis. Although it would take two more hours, and the lighting of another candle, Terra did manage to finish her reading, barely, before once again falling asleep, face down in her book.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Coin Trilogy 04 - Sunday, May 4th

This session was a little late due to birthdays and scheduling conflicts.

The group did find the mithril that they had been after, after some searching around.

They found a mithril meteorite in the dark hills to the north, and found two interesting things. The first was a cave that had been tunneled out on the side of the crater, and a shack built about the crater. They saw goblins coming in and out of the cave, and mining the meteor. They decided to investigate the shack first.

Inside, they saw someone working at a forge with a large assortment of alchemical mixtures and chemicals, who was chained to the forge. Seeing he was obviously captive, they tried to free him. They spent some time, and Ember opened the lock with her lock picking tools.

After being freed, the man identified himself as Arowain, the alchemist, and told how he was making a coin of power for the wizard Daresh under duress. Just then, Daresh, a human female wizard, enters the shack, and is enraged. She pulls the coin of power, unfinished, from the forge, where it hits her hand. Still molten hot, it grafts itself to her palm. She cries out in pain, and turns towards Ember. A bolt of electricity erupts from Daresh's hand, and before it hits Ember, Arowain jumps in front of her.

Daresh then stumbles out into the darkness. Arowain's dying words to the group are to warn of the new power of the coin of power now grafted to Daresh. The last ingredient for the coin of power is blood, and since it is grafted directly to Daresh, it's power could be unlimited. The coin normally destroys it wielder in a short matter of time, but since it relies on her to survive, they pose a significant threat to the region and the world. He also tells them to seek Halaan, the other person who knows the secret to making a coin of power, safely, and that Veoden can assist them.

The group then leaves the shack, and decide to search the caves for mithril, which Veoden agreed to pay for, and any other information that may help them. So far, they have encountered several goblins which they have dispatched.

XP was a little slim, but they have two pounds of mithril so far.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Final Fantasy IX

I've been playing Final Fantasy IX recently for the second time. I've actually been trying to play all the Final Fantasy games in order that I hadn't finished before, so I've played II, V, VIII, and now IX in order.

I had a brief period where I wasn't playing because I had lost disk 2 around Christmas time. A friend let me borrow disk 2 so I could through it, and now I'm on disk 3. I only slightly remember this part of the game, but the FMVs are incredible.

With the power of YouTube, I can share that with you right now, in case you don't remember this part of the game or haven't seem it before.

What do you think of the Final Fantasy series?

Fire Elementals and You

Friday, April 24, 2009

Palladium Fantasy

The group had just returned through the doorway in the hill, being chased by a horrific being.

"It's too dark. I can't see. Can someone provide a light?" asks Melkior.

Terra begins chanting, and a small globe of light appears close by. A brief moment later a fire elemental appears, glowing with an unearthly flame, bathing the entire corridor in light.

"What that?" asks Melkior, with a bit of trepidation.

"He's a fire elemental. I summoned him," replies Atlas.

"Oh. Fine," says Melkior, attempting to be unaffected but looking askance at the elemental.

Atlas sends the elemental ahead to scout and provide light. After a short distance, Melkior, Jade, and Terra recognize the area. A straight corridor with worked stone goes for a distance, where it them meets with unworked caverns that twist and wind. They eventually reach a ladder that goes for a distance upwards towards the hatch that they had entered into previously.

Atlas dismisses the elemental, as it would not be able to traverse the ladder without danger to others. Melkior goes up the ladder first, and the hatch easily opens for him, unlike the first time through from the other side where it was very difficult. He looks around briefly, and then assists Jade, Terra and lastly Atlas up through as well.

"Last time we were here, there was a black, viscous liquid with malignant intent. We should get out of here lest it return. The only question is, which way?"

"There is a fire 20 miles to the north, perhaps we should head in that direction?" says Atlas.

"What? How do you know that...never mind. It's not important. North is good, it should lead us out of the howling lands sooner than any other direction."

The group travels for a few hours, remaining on guard, and uneasy. The fierce winds are disrupted only by the large boulders and stones which cause an eerie howl as the wind wraps around them. They eventually get close to the source of fire according to Atlas, and Jade approaches alone to investigate.

What she sees is somewhat surprising. She sees a large bonfire with a small pile of wood nearby. There is a small bag on the ground, with something obviously inside. There are also four horses hobbled a short distance away.

Jade looks around, suspecting a trap, yet approaches the bag nonetheless she opens it up, and inside is a piece of parchment on it. She unrolls it, but is unable to read what is written upon it. She walks unceremoniously back to the group, and hands the parchment to Atlas.

"A gift for you. There is food and supplies in the saddlebags. Good luck," says Atlas, reading aloud. "That's all it says."

"Well, we have an unexpected patron. The question is who and why," says Melkior. "Though I suspect I might know both." Melkior muses to himself. The bonfire was smokeless and too far away to provide smoke in the first place, but was a beacon for Atlas. We were supposed to find something to help us according to Tim the wizard in the howling lands. However, Doreen also knew something of this, but how much is uncertain. The rune weapon that belongs to Jade is also a possible 'something' but would not have lead us to the bonfire.

As Melkior thinks to himself, the group travels mostly in silence northwards, back to civilization and out of the howling lands.

An indignant cleric finds a new master

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Sorry for the late post. This session was about a month ago.

"What have you done?!" exclaims Deekin, surveying the scene. He begins waving his hands and chanting, and then points at a nearby female. Her wounds close up and she stops bleeding in an instant. He repeats this two more times, and then moves closer to those with more serious injuries. Several become conscious under his ministrations, but some remain still.

"Now they will live. Deekin wants to know why Raizix would attack defenseless women and mothers!" He says accusingly to Raizix.

"The dragon Fzen'nal, your master, wanted them killed. Do you not want to do his bidding?" says Raizix in response.

"Master wants Deekin to do many things. He tells Deekin to jump off cliff. Does Deekin jump? No. Master pushes him off cliff. Master is evil, but Deekin, not so much. Deekin...Deekin thought you were different!" Deekin sobs. "Deekin thought you were mighty heroes, not murdering murderers!"

"Oh, alright Deekin. We'll do it your way. What do you want us to do?" says Raizix.

"Maybe, maybe scare them to exit? We must find exit, and then get them to leave. Master not care if they is gone or they is dead.

So the group proceeds to do exactly that. They find a hole to the surface that the mites must have used to sneak into the cave complex. They scare all the mites into leaving, at least those that don't attack them outright, impaling themselves on the groups weapons. They then close the door. They search everywhere for the dragon's stolen treasure and search the mites too to make sure they don't take anything out of the cave.

They then return to the dragon, and Raizix suggests the Deekin return the treasure to get back in the Fzen'nal's good graces.

"Master, we have recovered your treasure!"

"That is good, Deekin. Now, what was it that you wanted, Blue Dragon's Breath?" says Fzen'nal. He snatches the iron baton from Darwin and an evil gleam enters his eyes. He opens his mouth and breathes lightning onto the baton. After a short time, he returns the blackened baton to Darwin. "You all may leave. Deekin, attend me."

"Um, Master, Deekin was thinking,"

"That's something novel," whispers Darwin to his companions.

"Deekin was thinking, maybe, just maybe, Deekin could go with them, to, um, ensure they don't tell where you are at Master! And also, to make sure they don't take anything in your great domain!"

"Yes, Deekin, you may go with them. Your incessant propensity to refer to yourself in the third person has grown tiring. Leave, before I change my mind and decide to roast you for an appetizer."

"Oh, thank you Master! Dee..We will be leaving right now." Deekin runs ahead of the group, not exactly trusting to Fzen'nal's generosity. The others follow close behind.

"I wonder if the guides are still outside. We haven't been gone that long, so they should still be there," says Raizix. Everyone then hears a shout and commotion from outside.

"I think they are still there and they just met Deekin," says Ember. Everyone picks up the pace to catch up.

"Uh, Deekin is a nice, kind, benevolent Cleric of the Shimmering One and does not wish or bring you any harm?" Deekin says to the four guides assembled outside.

"He's with us. Just ignore him. Let's go," says Raizix.

It's an uneventful trip back to the village of Ejja-Vonan, where they are celebrated as heroes. The guides are reunited with their families, and their is a large feast. The next morning, the group leaves, and the small fishing boats accompany them out.

The group arrives back in Zoa, and return to Halaan's forge. As they approach, they see blue smoke in the distance. As they get closer, they see the smoke is coming out of the chimney of Halaan's forge.

Halaan is quite pleased to see them, and asks them to return at midnight as he will need there help. While they wait, they return to Geolain and ask about the devil's blood. Geolain says he hasn't located it yet, but should have tracked it down by tomorrow. He says he will see them tonight at Halaan has asked for his help as well.

So the group returns before midnight where they have a small sampling of food, but Halaan does not permit anyone to drink.

Halaan, with the assistance of Geolain and the group then casts spells on the coin, using the latest ingredient of Blue Dragon's Breath to imbue it with power. Once finished, they hear someone scurrying away. Ember rushes out the door, and throws a dagger at the figure scurring away. She misses, but Fang and Amatarasu rush after.

Raizix rushes after, and knocks the figure out. They drag the unconscious body back to Halaan's, and put him in a closed room on the second floor. Deekin brings him to consciousness, and they begin to ask him questions.

They get some information, but nothing truly useful from Refro, the human rogue. The Sentinels of the True Way have their eyes of Halaan, and will use the latest information to incriminate him in deviltry and witchcraft. Despite the groups protestations, he isn't convinced. With some clever work by Darwin, they convince him that remaining silent is in his best interest. They release Refro a distance away from Halaan's forge.

This was a particularly fun session, as I got to introduce Raizix's henchman Deekin, and there was much more in character interaction. I'm looking forward to future sessions.